‘Substantial progress’ made in settling Aetna case

Litigants in a federal class-action suit against Aetna Inc. for allegedly violating the HIV-privacy rights of about 12,000 customers have made “substantial progress” in settling the dispute, according to a recent court filing.

Last summer, Aetna sponsored a mass mailing using envelopes with large, transparent windows, making it possible to see someone’s HIV-related information without opening the envelope.

A third-party vendor who handled the July 2017 mailing on behalf of Aetna hasn’t been publicly identified.

In August, a class-action suit seeking more than $5-million in damages was filed on behalf of numerous individuals who claimed to be harmed by the mailing.

Last month, both sides participated in two full days of mediation with retired U.S. Magistrate Judge Diane M. Welsh. Litigants expect to submit a settlement agreement to U.S. District Judge Juan R. Sanchez by Dec. 1, according to court records.

“With the assistance of Judge Welsh, the parties made substantial progress toward reaching a nationwide class-action settlement and now require time to finalize and memorialize the settlement and prepare it to be presented to [Sanchez] for [his] approval,” stated an Oct. 27 filing. 

Neither side had a comment for this story.

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Tim Cwiek has been writing for PGN since the 1970s. He holds a bachelor's degree in history from West Chester State University. In 2013, he received a Sigma Delta Chi Investigative Reporting Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his reporting on the Nizah Morris case. Cwiek was the first reporter for an LGBT media outlet to win an award from that national organization. He's also received awards from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, the National Newspaper Association, and the Keystone Press.